Syria bleeds; US, Turkey to explore no fly-zone options

The US and Turkey are creating a formal structure to plan for worst-case scenarios in Syria.

Updated: Aug 11, 2012, 22:05 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Accra: No-fly zones might be imposed in Syria as the clashes between Syrian forces and rebels continue in Aleppo and Damascus.

The indication came from United States and Turkey after US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday met Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss ways to undermine Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

On possibilities of imposing no-flying zones over rebel-held areas in Syria, Clinton said that these options need “greater in-depth analysis” while indicating that no decisions were necessarily forthcoming.

After their talks, the two leaders said the US and Turkey are creating a formal structure to plan for worst-case scenarios in Syria, including a possible chemical weapons attack on regime opponents.

Hillary and Davutoglu said that their two nations would set up a working group to respond to the crisis in Syria as conditions there deteriorate. They said the group will coordinate military, intelligence and political responses to the potential fallout in the case of a chemical attack, which would result in medical emergencies and a likely rise in the number of refugees fleeing Syria.

Hillary said the group was needed in order to explore the "real details" of potential new crises.

Hillary was also scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as President Abdullah Gul.

Turkey is a fierce critic of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and has welcomed Syrian activists working to overthrow him.

The Obama administration is meanwhile readying new sanctions on the Syrian regime and its allies.

The United States and its western allies are stopping short of providing lethal assistance to the opposition, but it has become an open secret that several Arab countries are supplying weapons and ammunition.

In Syria, government forces were fighting rebels outside Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo as civilians continued to flee into Turkey to escape the civil war.

The 17-month-old conflict in Syria has defied all international attempts to calm the bloodshed. Rebels and activists said on Friday they have had enough of diplomacy and appealed to the international community to send weapons. Syrian rebels said on Friday that they were running low on ammunition and guns as government forces tried to consolidate their control over Aleppo, the country’s largest city and a deadly battleground for more than two weeks.

The government of Britain said on Friday it was offering the rebels nearly USD 8 million in assistance to pay for communications equipment and medical supplies.

Meanwhile, in New York diplomats at the United Nations were looking for someone to replace Kofi Annan, a former UN chief, who has abandoned his effort to find a peace agreement in Syria and is leaving by the end of the month.

Diplomats, meanwhile, have said former Algerian foreign affairs minister and longtime UN official Lakhdar Brahimi has emerged as a strong candidate to replace Kofi Annan.

(With Agency inputs)